By Erin Yazgan
Gender/Sexuality Reporter

This past weekend has been busy and productive for opponents of Proposition 8, which eliminated the right of same-sex couples to marry in the Nov. 4 vote. In Santa Cruz alone, events such as an anti-Proposition 8 forum and a town hall meeting mark the state of progress toward marriage equality.

“No on Prop. 8 at UCSC: What Now?,” a healing and regrouping forum, was held at the Bay Tree Conference Room B on Friday, which allowed people to share personal stories about their reactions to Proposition 8 and also brainstorm ideas toward helping the struggle.

In a commonly-told story, Thomas Bardin, third-year applied physics major and organizer of the forum, describes his night on Nov. 4.

“I had a feeling of just a weight in my stomach that said that something’s not going to go right,” Bardin said. “I was refreshing the Web page until two in the morning and it was 70 percent voter return and it was going to pass. It was very defeating.”

Bardin organized the event to allow people to vent these emotions and reorganize their efforts.

“Ninety-three percent of the voter turnout on campus voted down Prop. 8,” he said. “So 93 percent of the UCSC campus feels like their voice was rejected or ignored, that’s got to be crushing to some people. I really want to open a space for them to come together and grieve, but also in the forum, I’m hoping to inspire strength.”

One of the forum attendees, Kat Simpson, said she wished there had been more collaboration between different groups prior to the election.

“Not only did we flesh out a lot of really good ideas, but if we had stuff like this within the community, or even combine the UC students and community efforts, there wouldn’t be such separation,” Simpson said. “We’re all fighting for the same cause.”

Simpson also wishes she hadn’t underestimated the pro-Proposition 8 sentiment in California.

“So many people had thought that there’s no way it could pass,” Simpson said. “Maybe that’s because I associate myself with more liberal people or because I live in a liberal town, but in retrospect, everybody now says ‘I wish I would have done more to help.’”

Many in the forum felt this way, and discussed more ways to help by constructively criticizing the No on 8 campaign’s advertisement techniques, lack of Spanish literature, and lack of a voice from queer people of color.

Two days later, on Sunday, about 150 people attended a town hall meeting at Temple Beth El in Aptos, which was held by the GLBT Alliance of Santa Cruz County and the Diversity Center. It allowed for discussion about the next steps of furthering the campaign against Proposition 8.

The Santa Cruz County No on 8 Campaign is taking suggestions from Bardin’s forum as well as the town hall meeting. Campaign manager Glen Schaller believes that these efforts are very beneficial to the ultimate goal of gaining marriage equality.

“[At the town hall meeting,] the commonality of what people thought we should do next was very strong,” Schaller said.

As examples given at the town hall meeting, Schaller suggests that the No on 8 campaign should organize more rallies, increase the number of interns and volunteers to make phone calls, employ more gay and lesbian families as spokespeople, and partner with other No on 8 campaigns in Northern California.

Schaller called Bardin’s healing forum “wonderful,” and encourages others to step up their involvement in local campaigns.

“We turned anger into action,” Schaller said. “We’re acknowledging that people still have every reason to be angry, but it’s also time to get something done.”